This article is going to explore the reality of dairy. You may read something and wish you never had, but once you know you can’t unlearn it.
The harsh reality of rows of cramped pens, each imprisoning a solitary calf, will shock those who still believe in the fairy tale of the pastoral dairy farm, where blushing maidens perched on a stool milk smiling cows.
Calves should only be held in solitary pens until they are eight weeks old according to the animal welfare legislation, but Animal Equality claims that the battery calves it photographed at Grange Dairy in Dorset are up to six months old – too large for their hutches.
Marks & Spencer has since claimed that it was disappointed to see the report but has refused to drop the supplier.
The horrid fact is that this is a common reality and most suppliers are already aware of it, the daily practices of most dairy farms are more distressing than those of meat production.
How the dairy industry works:
Starting from the age of 15 months, female cows will usually be artificially inseminated. Farmers mechanically draw semen from a bull, push the female cow into a narrow trap and then brutally impregnate her.
When she gives birth, her calf will be removed within 36 hours, despite the strong bond which is formed between the two immediately after birth, so the farmers can steal and sell you the milk that is meant for her baby. Mother cows will cry and scream for days, wondering where her baby has been taken.
The answer depends on the gender of the calf. If male, he will probably either be shot and tossed into a bin, or sold to be raised for veal, which delays his death by just a matter of months.
But if the calf is female, she will usually be prepared for her own entry into dairy production, where she will face the same cycle of hell that her mother is trapped in: forced impregnation, the theft of her baby, and a return to the cattle crush two or three months later.
For at least six months of the year, she will often be confined inside dark sheds. But a growing number of dairy farms have a zero grazing system in this country, which means that cows spend their entire lives indoors.
A dairy cow is often pumped with antibiotics and hormones so she produces an unnatural amount of milk. This is done to keep up with the demand that we have created but it puts the cow under a huge amount of stress.
Under normal circumstances, she would generally only have a maximum of two litres of milk in her udder at any one time, but rapacious farmers may force her to carry 20 litres or more.
The udders of a dairy cow have been known to become so heavy that it makes her lame and she often develops an agonising infection called mastitis.
The strain this puts on her body means she is exhausted by the age of five. Soon, her milk yield will no longer be considered profitable.
Then, after being dragged off by a tractor, squeezed into a cramped truck, and driven to the slaughterhouse to be killed and turned into burgers or baby food.
You have a choice as to whether or not you contribute to an innocent animals torture.
Smaller businesses are starting to buy more ethical alternatives. The Fields Beneath cafe in London stopped offering cow’s milk and are replacing it with vegan milks, like almond or oat milk.
It posted a notice in its window, explaining that it took the move after watching the powerful five-minute YouTube video entitled Dairy Is Scary. The notice added: “We didn’t think it was either.”
We can see the impact of ethical buying if we look at dairy farm closures. 10 years ago there were around 21,000 dairy farms in England, Scotland and Wales. Industry analysts believe there will be fewer than 5,000 left by 2026.
Some reading this may think this is sad, but dairy closures mean more cows are being spared a horrid life trapped indoors, being brutally impregnated and only living for the purpose of milk.
One person can make a change.
Will you be thinking more about your food choices after reading this? Let us know in the comments on this video.
Jermain Defoe knows he’s gained far more than he’s lost by dropping animal products from his diet, commenting “I don’t find anything hard to give up … because I know the feeling scoring goals gives me,”
Promisingly he’s not the only one who is reaping the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Countless other athletes of all diciplines are discovering the same benefits of a vegan diet – and are seeing their performance improve and recovery time plummet.
Many even say that fuelling their body with super-nutritious plant foods is the key to their success.
Scott Jurek, a passionate advocate of veganism and a world record holder, believes the diet is central to the success of his decades-long racing career.
NFL defensive lineman David Carter, who is 6ft 5in and “300 pounds of veganism” is another example.
“I don’t have the soreness I used to have before. I’m not sluggish. I recover a lot faster,” Carter told the Chicago Sun Times, speaking of his transition to a plant-based diet. “I was shocked. When I first started, I was, ‘What the hell? I have more energy. I’m a lot stronger than I was before.’”
this should give all vegans hope, especially considering the annoying “But where do you get your protein?” quiz most of us have experienced at some point.
David “the Hayemaker” Haye, the professional boxer widely recognised as one of the best boxers of his generation, went vegan for ethical reasons.
Haye told the Telegraph last year that the diet made him stronger than he’s ever been.
Tennis professionals and sisters Venus and Serena Williams eat a plant-based diet, and Venus credits the diet alone for her ability to get back on the court after she was diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune condition, saying “It definitely changed my whole life.”
So why are so many professional – and amateur – athletes adopting this lifestyle?And why does it seem to supercharge their performance?
The body of research on vegan athletes specifically is still small, but studies on those in the general population who have adopted this way of eating offer a great deal of insight.
There is an overwhelming amount of evidence which shows a diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, grains and beans, and devoid of animal products, is perhaps the best diet for cardiovascular health. In fact, some doctors say it’s the only diet proven to actually reverse heart disease, the UK’s number-one killer.
Given that heart health is a main concern for athletes of all levels, it makes sense that a diet proven to be lower in cholesterol, and to improve cardiovascular function, would be the top choice for top performance.
it is also important for athletes to have a sleek physique. Studies have found that vegans have lower average body mass indices than even vegetarians, while meat-eaters, on average, have the highest BMIs.
In fact, even when calorie intake is the same across all groups studied, the vegans’ high intake of plant-based proteins, fibre, magnesium and other nutrients helps them stay the slimmest.
These healthy nutrients have also been proven to reduce chronic inflammation: the athlete’s worst nightmare.
Not to mention greater risk for serious illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The same is true for meat consumption and cancer. Even when physically fit, athletes aren’t immune from the disease, which accounts for more than a third of all deaths in the UK. Cutting out meat, dairy, and eggs is one of the best ways athletes and others can reduce their cancer risk; studies show that consuming too much animal protein might be just as dangerous as smoking, given that those who eat a lot of meat are four times as likely to die from cancer or diabetes.
Elite athletes make headlines, as Defoe has, when they go vegan, but the science is clear: everyone can benefit from a plant-based lifestyle. We may not all get the thrill of scoring a goal at Wembley, but powered by plants, we’ll all feel better, live healthier and run farther.
what do you think about athletes making the switch to a vegan diet? Let us know in the comments below.
Pret a Manger has announced it will open a second vegetarian-only branch in London following the success of the first veggie outlet from the chain in Soho.
The new shop will open in Shoreditch on the 4th of April with new recipes on the menu, including a vegan macaroni cheese and a vegan chocolate brownie.
Chief executive Clive Schlee said the location of the second outlet was chosen based on the high levels of vegetarian sales in the area.
“It seems the movement for eating less meat continues to grow. The next stop for Pret will be the US, where we’ll be launching a new veggie range in all our US shops at the end of April.” – Clive Schlee
Spokesperson for the Vegan Society Dominika Piasecka said:
“We are very pleased that Pret are recognising the increasing demand for vegan food by opening a second Veggie Pret shop, this time permanently. As more customers learn about the ethical, environmental and health benefits of the vegan lifestyle, many businesses have been reacting positively by introducing vegan choices.
“Offering vegan options in restaurants makes clear commercial sense – businesses are opening potential market up to not only half a million vegans in the UK, but also to a million more vegetarians, the huge number of meat and dairy reducers, the lactose intolerant, and others who simply enjoy vegan food from time to time.”
The vegetarian restaurant that the popular chain launches in June last year was only supposed to be a pop-up restaurant but has remained opened due to popular demand from customers.
What do you think about the new veggie pret opening? Do you think this could mean more opening outside of London soon? Let us know below.
Although the number of vegans across the UK has soared exponentially in the past decade, those following a vegan diet can often find it somewhat challenging to maintain balanced meals. Many shops have limited options, and the vegan choices are often filled with carbs and sugar.
Vegans looking to keep their diet must take careful note of the nutrients they get from their food. Here, are some tips vegans can follow to maintain the healthiest diet possible
1. Consume some calcium
Although in our modern society the mineral is thought to be only found in dairy products such as yoghurt and milk, calcium is abundant in a wide assortment of green, leafy vegetables, such as cabbage, rocket watercress, kale, broccoli, seaweed or parsley. Calcium can also be found in almonds, chickpeas and kidney beans, as well as fortified foods such as tofu and fortified orange juice.
2. Thrive on a plant based diet
Many people don;t dedicate enough time to planning their meals, and vegans are no exception. Filling shopping baskets with easy-to-grab, starchy items – such as pasta, chips and bread will do nothing for your health or waistline.
Strive to eat healthier, whole foods to give their body the vital nutrients and antioxidants it needs. Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, berries, whole grains and nuts will keep meal times exciting and make sure that you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs.
3. Increase your iron absorption
Iron deficiency is a common condition among vegans because most are not swapping red meat with iron rich plant-based alternatives. It’s a common mistake to make
The best way to prevent the deficiency is by eating plenty of whole grains and legumes, as these are packed with iron. It’s also sensible to consume foods with sources of Vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, cabbage and leafy greens, as this dramatically improves the rate at which your body absorbs iron.
4. You can still eat out
Any vegan will know that it’s a challenge to find restaurants which offer vegan-friendly foods. But nowadays, leading restaurant chains and even fast-food places are starting to offer vegan options on their menus. Customisation is key, so ask for meat to be removed from an otherwise perfect pasta dish – or go straight for the “I’m allergic to dairy and eggs” excuse most vegans know all too well.
5. The internet is your friend
There are so many ingredients and additives that are not suitable for vegans – and unfortunately, not all vegans are aware of them. Today, there are lots of websites, devices and apps which can support and guide vegans with their food choices. Here are a few:
http://www.barnivore.com/ – use this site to check if your favourite brands of alcohol are vegan/vegetarian-friendly.
http://isitvegan.net/ – use this app or website to scan barcodes and let their databases tell you if its safe to consume.
https://www.happycow.net/ – a real life saver! This website will take your location and tell you the nearest vegan and vegetarian resteraunts near you.
Did you find any of these tips helpful? Let us know using the comment section on this article.